AHS in the Rose Parade


Sophia Li and Henrina Zhang

Arcadia High School (AHS) definitely made their mark on the 2022 Rose Parade. From the rose princess, AHS senior Swetha Somasundaram, to Band and Colorguard, to the Tournament Troop, AHS had a variety of representation from the arts and community service.

On Jan. 1, almost 200 AHS students marched down Colorado Boulevard in the 133rd annual Rose Parade and proudly represented our high school. This year, the theme for the Tournament of Roses was ‘Dream, Believe, Achieve’.

As they returned from the canceled 2021 Rose Parade, AHS alumni were also invited to march. Many of the performers conveyed how honored, excited, and nervous they were for this once-in-a-lifetime experience. Drum Major senior Elise Fong expressed how nerve-racking but proud she was to lead the marching band.

To start off, Somasundaram appeared as one of the princesses in this year’s seven-member Royal Court. Every young woman who appeared on the float went through an extensive application and interview process to become a member of the Royal Court.

From start to finish, Somasundaram has had an amazing experience partaking in the Royal Court. Before riding the float in the Rose Parade, she rejoiced that she couldn’t wait to “be a role model for other little girls!  [There’s] a very diverse court this year, and it’s super cool to know l can represent my culture and heritage.” 

As for her experience with the other six princesses, Somasundaram also added, “The other girls and I have bonded a lot—it’s like getting six new sisters! We went out to get ice cream really late after a training session, and it was a super cool moment, even though we were shaking from the cold.” 

“I always loved seeing the Royal Court on their floats when I was little, and they’d exude this power and confidence that I just wanted to be a part of,” Somasundaram reflected. Now, that dream of wanting to participate in something greater than herself has become a reality.

Other than Somasundaram, Band and Colorguard also made an appearance in the parade, this being their 17th time performing for the Rose Parade, building off of its legacy.

Every four years, the marching band auditions to perform in the Rose Parade. However, due to the unfortunate circumstances of COVID-19, the performance was rescheduled to this year in 2022. However, performing in front of thousands, if not millions of people is not an easy feat. 

“We rehearsed pretty much everyday during the second week of winter break. We would march in a block back and forth down the street (preparing us for the five miles), and later practiced our field show. Even though rehearsals were really time consuming, it was worth it when we performed at the Rose Parade. Performing at the Rose Parade was really exciting, but the five miles were really tiring. Overall, the band is like a second family to me,” sophomore Band member Zoe Seow described. 

“Performing was definitely tiring, but a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” said junior saxophone player Ethan Lai. “The audience reciprocated a lot of energy, which made marching a lot more fun and enjoyable, with their constant applause and cheering.”

Lai mentioned that he is most proud of their synchronization and organization. He stated that their marching “surpassed [his] initial expectations.” 

“Performing felt like living a dream,” said junior Scott Wongin. “Everyone around the world, including myself, has dreams of being able to participate in the Rose Parade, and here we were accomplishing this. And marching past the cheering spectators filled me with more pride and energy that helped me endure through the fatigue and soreness. After the performance, I was very tired, but I was also extremely proud of ourselves. I believed that we performed at the highest level throughout the entire parade, which is an amazing feat for anyone to accomplish.”

Performing alongside Band was Colorguard, and their performance was spectacular. 

“Looking back on our fall season, I’m so proud of how far we have come,” said Colorguard Captain senior Kate Fletcher. “The majority of our team had never done a fall season before, but we were able to win first place color guard at Southern California Championships and give a successful performance at such a prestigious parade. I’m so grateful for my team and everything Color Guard has given me.”

Fletcher explained how preparing for the Rose Parade was difficult, as they had to recover from the Southern California Championship, performing at Disney, Band Fest, and its Winter Show. 8:00 a.m. to  5:00 p.m. practices aren’t easy. 

But Fletcher said “we try to have fun and keep each other motivated. It is just something that comes with the sport that we’ve gotten used to.” 

With the help of well-known choreographer Anthony Garcia, Colorguard couldn’t wait to show their choreography off.

But it doesn’t stop there. Aside from Somasundaram, Band, and Colorguard, members of the Tournament Troop from Boy Scouts of America and Girls Scouts led the Flag Ceremony at the start of the event and carried banners for award-winning floats. These representatives of our high school are from the Eagle Scouts and Gold Award Girl Scouts groups and have been specially chosen to carry the banners throughout the parade.

All in all, the 2022 Rose Parade, which marked the 133rd anniversary of the Rose Parade, was a success for Arcadia. AHS had several representatives in many different categories and exemplified diversity and participation in an event that inspires thousands, if not millions of viewers worldwide. 


Photo courtesy of AUSD